Action13

Tips if your car is flooded

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The flood waters are almost gone, but the headaches are only beginning for hundreds of car owners whose vehicles took on water.

What you do with your car after the flood is a source of confusion for a lot of people? Maybe it depends on how high the water got in the car. Even if you only got a little water in your vehicle, it's a good idea to get it checked out.

Cedric Williams woke to find flood water in his car, "I left it the way it was, let the water recede a little bit, let the water get from under the engine and let it dry."

Williams then brought his car to get dried out by professionals. Mechanics we spoke with say if your car took on water while it was parked don't start the vehicle until the water is dried out. Having the car towed to a shop may not be a bad idea either.

"Check the fluid levels, there is a dipstick for the oil and transmission, check the fluid levels, check the air filter to see if it is wet," said John Poutous of Poutous Automotive.

Mechanics say the best case scenario for those who got water in a parked car is a cleanup that can cost as little as a few hundred dollars. If you drove through water and the car died things can get expensive in a hurry.

Poutous showed us a car that had stalled out in water. The electronics are fried and the engine is ruined. He says the car is likely to be totaled because repairs can run in the thousands.

"When water gets to the level where it covers the center console and the dash console, there is no way a car like that gets fixed," he said.

If your car made it through high water and is still running, consider yourself lucky, but reconsider that move next time.

"Best advice don't drive through the high water, it is not worth your life, it's not worth losing your car, it is not worth the headache that it puts you through," advised insurance agent Rick Luckett.

Luckett gets calls after every Houston flood. He says contacting your insurance company is a good idea if you took on water because most policies cover that damage.

"We don't see a lot of cars completely totaled just because of water damage," he told us. "Only when it is inundated, a little water damage does not mean your car is gone."

A lot depends on where your car's air intake is located. For some cars it is low and that makes them more likely to be affected by driving through high water. So just because the other guy made it does not mean you will.

Which cars are best for high water, probably trucks, right? Not necessarily. Yes trucks usually have air intakes that are higher up than a car, but that can give truck owners a false sense of security. As for which car is best, they differ so widely even among brands that it's best to know your own car's design, or just avoid driving through high water. That's the easy way out for all of us.

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